Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, has tested positive for COVID-19 less than five weeks to the 2020 presidential election.
Although Trump is said to be experiencing “mild symptoms”, he has been flown to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washinting DC where he is receiving an experimental treatment and staying under close observation.
Due to the novel nature of COVID-19 and Trump’s age, weight and sex, he is could be in grave danger before the US elections.
In the event that he is incapacitated or dies, the US constitution gives the US Congress the power to determine if the November 3 election date can be changed although political analysts in Washington say this is unlikely to happen.
The presidential election has never been postponed.
US law allows the presidential election to take place on the first Tuesday in November every four years.
The House of Representatives would likely reject moves to delay the election even if the Senate voted to do so.
If a candidate dies
The Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee have rules that call for their members to vote on a replacement nominee.
Considering how close the elections are and that voting has already commenced with over 2.2 million votes already cast, it may be too late to replace a candidate in time for the election.
The deadline to change ballots in many states has also passed; mail ballots, which are expected to be widely used due to the Coronavirus pandemic, have been sent to voters in two dozen states.
Voters will still go ahead and chose between Democratic andidate, Joe Biden, and Republican candidate, Trump even if one of them dies before the election.
Electoral College votes
The Electoral College system determines the election by securing the majority of electoral votes allowed to 50 states and the District of Columbia in proportion to their population.
The Electoral College’s electors will meet on December 14 to vote for President.
The winner must receive at least 270 of the 538 total Electoral College votes.
Each state’s electoral votes typically go to the winner of the state’s popular vote. Some states allow electors to vote for anyone they choose, but more than half of the states bind electors to cast their votes for the winner.
Most state laws that bind electors do not make provisions for what to do if a candidate dies.
Michigan’s law, for example, requires electors to vote for the winning candidates who appeared on the ballot. Indiana law, however, states that electors should switch to a party’s replacement if the candidate has died.
In the event of a candidate’s death, the opposing party might challenge in court whether bound electors should be allowed to vote for a replacement.
If winner dies after Electoral College has voted without Congress certification.
Even after the Electoral College votes have been cast, the US Congress must convene on January 6 to certify the results.
It is unclear how Congress would resolve a scenario if a presidential candidate won a majority of electoral votes dies.
The US constitution’s 20th amendment says the vice President-elect becomes President if the President-elect dies before Inauguration Day.
If Congress rejects votes for a deceased candidate and therefore found no one had won a majority, it is up to the House of Representatives to pick the next President, choosing from among the top three electoral vote-getters.
If President-elect dies or becomes incapacitated after Congress certifies result.
If a president-elect is incapacitated or dies, the vice president-elect would be sworn in on January 20.